Chapter III – Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia has been home to some of the oldest major civilizations, including the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. Grouped together they are known as the Chaldean. It began with the rise of the first cities in southern Mesopotamia around 7,300 years ago and ended with the Persian conquest around 2,500 years ago. The achievements of these early astronomers, especially the Persians, and later Islamic, which I will include in this chapter, though not being significant until the seventh century A.D., were extremely significant to astronomy.
By about 2,500 years ago, the Sumerian civilization was firmly established in Mesopotamia, during the archaeological period of Uruk. These early Sumerians saw the night sky as a blackboard on which the gods left cryptic messages. Their priests began to seriously and systematically observe the stars and planet’s movements, with a form of writing, known as cuneiform, also emerging around this time. The Sumerians would only practise a basic form of astronomy, but they had an important influence on the sophisticated astronomy of the later Babylonians, when astral theologies would give planetary gods an important role in mythology and religion.Continue reading